Steele Coveted
Send feedback to: lindsay.mcneill @ (without the extra spaces)

This story takes place after the series. Remington and Laura recently got married for the second time, for real this time (covered in a story that I have written but has not been beta read.) Hope everyone enjoys it. Thanks to Greyowlette for beta reading.

Steele Coveted

Laura Steele woke up in a cold and lonely bed. She glanced over to the window to see weather that matched her mood. The rain that fell all night long continued to beat against the windows, and the gray light that broke through the clouds was decidedly ominous.

He had gone to bed with her; that was not the problem, but he had been distant since late afternoon. She had tried to talk to him several times, but each time she had, he’d made flippant remarks and then excused himself from the room.

She knew she would not see him in the morning. Yet it had taken her many more moments than necessary to open her eyes. She lay there willing him to be looking at her from some corner of the room or from the doorway. When she opened her eyes, all she saw was the rain.

The drops of rain made different muted sounds as they fell, first hitting the leaves, then the soft ground and finally joining their fellow travelers in a stream that led to the nearby pond. Remington stood on a small footbridge staring into the woods. The water that washed down his face hid his tears.

The flood of emotions that were tearing through his heart were pulling at him from every possible direction. He felt guilty for not explaining things clearly enough to Laura. He felt weak for being so easily beaten down, but most of all, he felt lonely.

She deserved better; he knew that. She deserved, as she would say, “ to be let in on the joke.” But as he was not even sure of his own thoughts, he felt he had nothing to offer her. That too, made him feel guilty. He knew she would only offer help, that she would somehow make things better.

But this? He wanted to fight this on his own; he wanted to be able to fight his own battle for once, even if it was against himself.

The envelope had left him feeling blank and confused. The contents that it had held were something he had waited for his whole life, that he had sought out, that he had longed for. So why did he feel so empty? Why had he withdrawn from the only person that understood him?

For the first time since the Bloustein case, when he had almost lost Laura, he felt desolate. He buried his head in his hands and wept.

Laura pattered around the kitchen searching for utensils hidden by his organizational scheme. She had decided to make herself pancakes. There was no sense in being both hungry and depressed. The hunger she could control.

She thought about Remington. She could tell that he was trying, trying to tell her what he felt, what he was going through. But each time he opened his mouth, his voice cracked with hidden emotion, and he replaced the truth with some trivial remark.

It hurt her to see him in pain, but she did not want to force him to talk. She knew that when he was ready, he would come to her.

It had felt odd sleeping in the same bed, yet so distant from him. She stayed up most of the night waiting for him to cry, waiting for him to whisper some clue that would give away his heartache. But all she had heard through the night was the dull roar of the rain hitting their bedroom skylight.

She sat down lost in her thoughts, eating her soggy pancakes and wishing she was not alone.

After a long while, Remington turned and headed back toward the car. He was soaked from head to toe, and rain dripped off the end of his nose. His shoes sloshed with each step, and he shoved his hands deeply into his pockets.

“April showers, eh?” he said, managing a weak smile as he cast his eyes heavenward.

The rain was beginning to dissipate, and a rainbow appeared in the field before him. He thought of Laura.

“You’re right; she’s probably the answer,” he said, looking at the sky once more. Even though he was quite sure he was alone, he still looked around to make sure no one had seen his one-sided conversation.

There was no reason to stay any longer. He had a three-hour drive ahead and plenty of time to think.

He sat in silence for a moment after closing the car door. His chest ached from the tears he’d held back all night long. He had wanted to reach over, take her in his arms and hold her, or make love to her -- anything. But he had felt paralyzed. So instead he had lain in bed, watching the shadows created as streams of water ran down their bedroom windows.

He started the car and pulled out onto the highway.

A few miles down the road, he came to a gas station. He pulled off and decided to call Laura.

When she answered, her voice was noticeably weak.


“Where are you? Are you ok?” Laura asked worriedly.

“Yes, I’m safe. Laura?”


“I’m sorry. I love you.”

“I love you too; please come home.”

“I’m on my way.”

The sound of her voice was even more comforting than he thought possible. Why had he not rolled over in the night and bared his soul to her? Why had he not let his tears fall earlier when she was there to wipe them away? How was he going to make it up to her? How was he going to make her understand when he did not even understand himself?

A slew of questions clouded his mind as he drove home.

Laura was surprised that she was not angry, not in the least. Her heart ached for him. She knew that what he was not telling her had nothing to do with his feelings for her. She knew he loved her. She just wanted to make him feel better. She had grown dependent upon his charismatic smile and was having serious withdrawal symptoms.

She decided to surprise him. She ran into the bathroom and swept her hair up into a bun, fastening her bangs with a few bobby pins. Remington preferred her hair the way it was when they met, and after a few weeks, she’d agreed. Unfortunately, she was in a battle with the bangs; it had taken her quite some time to figure out how to deal with their awkward length.
After making her face look presentable and brushing her teeth, she quickly moved to the closet. She threw on an acceptable outfit and scooted out the front door and into the elevator.

She wanted to buy him a gift, something that they could enjoy together. And she knew just where to go.

Remington’s mood began to lighten as he covered the miles back to L.A. He watched the houses fly by as he drove, thinking about the people inside. Each held a story of joy or tragedy. Somehow, he felt renewed when he thought of the larger backdrop -- the drama of life.

Every moment, somewhere, a man took his last breath. Yet each day newborn babies took into their lungs the breath of life. It was the way of the world. And just like the great poetic works of Shakespeare and the melodic tunes of Rachmaninoff, it was the joy mixed with the pain that made the whole work truly beautiful.

Laura walked into the electronics store hunting for the aisle that held the collection of VHS tapes. When they were little, Frances and she would dance around in their living room together, singing along with various musicals. It was the closest the two had ever been.

As Laura’s mind had been growing more like Remington’s, she found herself constantly comparing life to the cinema. And recently she had remembered one of her favorites:
The Music Man, Robert Preston, Shirley Jones, Warner Bros., 1962. A con man comes to a Midwestern town with a scam using a boys’ marching band program, but things don't go according to plan. He meets an intelligent young woman, falls in love with her, and chooses to stay and risk imprisonment rather than leave her.

It was quite like their story. Laura tucked the box under her arm and happily made her way to the checkout line. She wanted to see him smile, and she was almost sure that this, paired with a little romantic persuasion, would do the trick.

The sun came through the windows of the store, and just as the sun had risen, so had her spirits. She thought of her husband driving home and happiness washed over her face. These hours away from him had felt like an eternity. She wanted to put her arms around him, comfort him, and help him through whatever he was facing.

After making her purchase, she drove quickly to her favorite boutique to buy a new dress. With the recent and unexpected case, they had not even been on a date since their wedding. She needed something perfect, something different from anything she had worn before.

It did not take her long to find the right dress. She liked how the satin felt cold and smooth against her skin. She presumed he would like the way it felt too. It was strapless and black and fell to about mid-calf with a large royal blue sash at the waist that tied elegantly in the back. It fit her small frame perfectly.

“Oh, you look divine!” said the saleslady.

Laura smiled. “Yes, it is lovely, but a little expensive,” she said as she looked at the tag.

“You can’t put a price on perfection,” the woman answered, admiring Laura in the mirror.

Laura grinned, bearing her teeth, excited about the frivolity. “You are right; it’s important.”

“Going out?” the woman asked.

“Staying in,” Laura answered, smiling once more.

Laura arrived home and figured she had about an hour before he would arrive. She ordered Chinese takeout to be delivered and made her way to the shower.

She had a bath gel that smelled sweet, like honeysuckle. He loved it. He had told her several times that it enhanced her natural smell and therefore drove him wild.
She hummed as she scrubbed her scalp and let the warm water beat down on her closed and weary eyes.

Suddenly, she felt an arm come around her from behind and familiar fingers ran up her wet skin. She let out a little shriek and turned to face him. Somehow he had slipped into the shower unnoticed and fully clothed. He smiled at her and held up the bottle of bath gel.

“Planning to get lucky, are we?” he said before kissing her.

She kissed him passionately and looked into his bloodshot eyes.

“Oh,” she said frowning. “You look terrible.” She ran her fingers across his unshaven face, and he gave her a half-hearted smile.

“I really am sorry, Laura; I shouldn’t keep things from you.”

“It’s alright,” Laura said, seeing the pain that was written on his face. “We all deal with things in our own way. I know you well enough. I knew you would come to me when you were ready.” She gave another comforting caress to his cheek, and he kissed her deeply.

“What’s that?” Remington asked when a faint buzzing sound interrupted them.

Laura had to come back to reality before she could answer.

“It’s dinner, Mr. Steele. I ordered takeout.” She smiled and he grinned back.

“Since you are a little underdressed to get the door, I will retrieve dinner,” he said.

“But you’re all wet!” Laura shouted as he ran out of the bathroom.

“The carpet won’t mind,” Remington said, ignoring his own obsessive compulsive tendencies.

The delivery boy was surprised to see a dripping, soapy man in a shirt and tie answer the door.

“Experiment gone awry,” Remington said, signing the receipt.

“Sure, whatever, Mister. What you do on your own time is your business,” the young man said, hurrying back into the elevator.

Laura had locked the door while Remington retrieved the food.

“Laura, what is going on!?” Remington shouted as he hit the door.

“You don’t want to spoil my surprise do you?” Laura asked.

“Oh, a surprise?”

“Yes, a surprise,” she reiterated.

Remington’s smiles were growing successively larger. He sat down and leaned back on one of the wooden dining room chairs, his sorrowful thoughts being replaced with thoughts of his naked wife.

When Laura finally emerged, Remington’s jaw nearly dropped to the floor. “I never thought anyone could look so good in clothes,” he said smiling.

“I am glad you like it, but don’t touch me,” she said as he stepped towards her. “You’re wet, and this is satin,”

“Ohh…,” he said, feigning a shudder. “Bad combination: don’t touch and you.

“Go and change,” she said grinning at him. “Oh, not to bring things down, but I thought we could talk later; I don’t want to go to bed again without knowing what’s on your mind.”

“As long as you make love to me first, I will tell you anything,” Remington said, disappearing into the bedroom.

A woman’s gotta do what a woman’s gotta do,” Laura thought to herself.

It felt good to shed his wet clothes and feel something dry and warm against his skin. It felt good to be home. The idea of having a home, a place that would always be his was still somewhat foreign to him, but he was certain that he would always have a home now.

He looked into the mirror at his bloodshot eyes, evaluating each one individually. Laura was right; he looked awful. The stubble that had appeared on his face after only one day of not shaving was almost astonishing to him; it felt rough against his hand.

He thought back to the first time that he had shaved. Daniel stood behind him explaining the perfect technique. He remembered what it felt like and how gratifying it was to turn into a young man. He had grown tall very young, but it had taken a while for his sinewy form to take shape. He remembered when women began to notice him. It was about the same time that he developed his disarming grin, and, boy, did he ever take advantage of the attention.

Daniel had also taught him to develop his “take the world by storm” attitude. When he had stared into that mirror, removing for the first time the signs of manhood, he never would have guessed that he would find himself married and settled. He never even thought he would know what it meant to be home.

He glanced over at the freshly painted walls. Laura had just painted them red. They matched his eyes. He smiled. She had taken to decorating with such gusto, and he approved of all her choices.

He ran his fingers through his hair, trying to brush away the most obvious bumps. He didn’t like looking so disheveled, but it was more important to join his wife than to look perfect. He made his way back out to the dining room.

Laura felt relieved when he entered. His mood had improved dramatically, but he was still not her Mr. Steele. He kissed her on the cheek, and the stubble on his face ground against her skin. She reached up and pulled him close, embracing him. He was cold. Something in her did not want to let go. She felt his tense shoulders relax as she ran her fingers lovingly over his back.

He breathed deeply, lowering his head to the curve of her neck and then exhaled, his breath creating condensation on her skin. That exhaled breath said more of what he was feeling than he had offered her in words, and she wrapped her arms more tightly around him.

“Laura, Laura, Laura,” left his lips like a mantra, as he buried his head even deeper in the crook of her neck and kissed it with fondness.

“Dinner is getting cold,” Laura said finally. She pulled his head back, looked lovingly into his eyes and kissed him on the lips, letting her face brush lightly against his affectionately.

“Mu shu pork,” Remington said, smiling and taking one of the thin pancakes in his hand.

“And egg rolls, and almond chow mein, and fried rice with chicken,” Laura said, returning the smile.

“Thanks, love, you know what I like,” he said running his fingers over her hand.

The rest of the meal was spent in silence. Neither had eaten all day, and appetite took over.

Laura noticed from time to time the looks of longing and admiration that frequently showed on his face as he surveyed as much of her as he could see. It was flattering that despite his inner turmoil, he still desired her. The blue of his eyes was still bright despite the red around them.

When they finished, Remington slid gracefully out of his chair and took Laura’s hand, raising her into his arms. He then began to sway back and forth, taking her with him. They danced in silence as the lights of the city cast shadows onto the wall.

He pulled her so that she was flush against him, and he rested his cheek on her temple. The sweet smell of her perfume entered his nose and he inhaled deeply. Silence seemed to be conveying their inner thoughts well enough.

The way he kept pressure at the small of her back said “I need you.” The way she moved her head and let her lips and nose brush against his skin said “I’m here for you.” And the way they danced together, predicting each movement the other would make, said “I love you.”

He was happy to be holding her in his arms. Only hours before he had felt so lost, so alone. Now here he was again, holding home in his arms, holding the only antidote to his ailing heart, holding Laura.

He soon led her to the bedroom where they joined in another dance that held healing powers. He took every second to appreciate the soft feel of her skin, the shape of her lips, and the contours of her delicate form. She was the idol of his tender ritual.

They lay in bed for many moments. He had never made love to her quite like that before. He had never let her see quite how much he needed her. The intense vulnerability he had displayed testified to how far they had come. He wasn’t protecting himself anymore; he was an open book.

“I don’t know what to offer you for your thoughts, but I would be grateful if you would tell me what happened,” Laura said finally.

“Ah, verbal contracts are binding, I suppose,” he said, smiling.

“They are when you have signed a marriage certificate,” she said, grinning back.

“All right,” he said, hesitating.

Laura saw twinges of pain show up again on his face. He leaned over and pulled a manila envelope from his night stand and then leaned against the headboard, inviting Laura to nestle against him.

“This came yesterday while you were out finishing the contract with the Gilbert Corp.” Laura looked at Daniel’s recognizable script, and things were immediately more clear for her.

“Harry,” she said, noticing there was no last name on the address . She looked up at him, offering comfort.

Remington then pulled out the short note inside. Mist filled his eyes as he handed it
to her:
My dear boy,
I always enjoyed our special time together. I am sorry that I cannot be there now. I hope the other items which I have enclosed will help you somehow. I always wanted things to be different between us. I hope you can understand.
Your loving father,
Daniel Chalmers

Laura could feel Remington’s eyes on her as she read it. “He loved you; you know that now if you didn’t before,” she said, touching his cheek.

Remington looked at the wall for a moment and then began to speak.

“When I met Daniel, I had nothing; I trusted no one. He taught me how to live, how to get what I want, and how to be a man. I began to trust him, never understanding why he was in my life, why he was giving his time to me, or why he was willing to make sacrifices for me. I did not believe anyone so much as enjoyed my company, and here this man came out of the blue, picked me up out of the street, and turned a ruffian into an artist.”

Laura took his hand in hers.

“When we parted, I mean, when I was old enough to go my own way, we made a promise. We would always spend one particular day together a year. No matter where we were, what we were doing, April 17th was our day. To me it had no significance, but for some reason, the wine flowed freely on that day.

We would sit and talk about our exploits, dine at the finest restaurants, and just celebrate life. It was the closest thing to a family holiday that I ever experienced.”

“That’s today,” she said, as if a clue had fallen into place.

“I forgot, Laura,” Remington said, tears filling his eyes.

Laura quickly wiped away his tears. “Remington, I think he will forgive you,” she said, trying to offer comfort with a sympathetic smile.

Instead Remington’s body began to shake, and he turned, burying his head against her chest.

“He’s gone; he’s really gone,” Remington choked out between sobs.

Laura ran her fingers soothingly over his hair as his tears spilled onto her skin.

“The people we love never really leave us,” she said, kissing his forehead.

Remington regained some composure and spoke again.

“We’ve been so busy with the wedding and all; I just got caught up in everything. In the back of my mind, Daniel was still out there somewhere, pulling off the ultimate con, whisking a beautiful woman away to some chateau.”

He paused. “When I started going through the mail yesterday and saw his distinctive scrawl, a smile came to my face. ‘What is he up to now?’ I thought. And then it hit me like a steam engine.” Remington choked on his words again.

“Daniel is dead, Laura. He’s gone. No more special days, no more meetings in exotic places. He’s gone.”

Tears streamed down his face, and she gathered him into her embrace once more.

“I wish I had something profound to say that would make your pain disappear,” she said as she kissed his temple.

“The fact that you are here is….” His voice gave way to tears, and he tightened his arms around her waist.

They lay entwined for nearly an hour as he let the emotion drain from his body. Laura knew he didn’t need her words; he just needed her, someone to hold on to, someone to love him in silence.

“There’s more,” he said, resuming his position against the backboard.

He reached again into the envelope and pulled out a tattered piece of paper. Laura gasped when she saw what it was.

“Your birth certificate!” she exclaimed, pulling herself higher against the backboard so she could read it.

“Callan Harrison O’Quin,” Remington read aloud. “Born April 17, 1954, to Lola O’Quin. Father not present.”

“Just like Daniel to go out in style by sending you this. He really loved you. All that time, he made sure to spend your birthday with you every year.”

“Yes, but I didn’t know it was my birthday,” Remington answered.

“Don’t you see? To him you were always, first and foremost, his son.”

Remington mustered a smile.

“Every time we met, he would lift his glass and say simply, ‘To life!’ Then he would look at me in a way I did not understand.”

“Because he was looking at his son and toasting the life of his son,” Laura said, smiling.

He smiled back.

“Happy birthday!” She hesitated... “You.” She chuckled a little.

“Mr. Steele,” he said laughing. “The name is ‘Remington Steele.’”

Laura kissed him sweetly.

“I will be right back,” Remington said, running toward the bathroom as Laura watched.

Laura decided to pick up the envelope again, and two pictures fell out. She wondered why he had not mentioned them and began to study them. One was of two young boys. The grin one wore was unmistakably Daniel‘s. She turned it over and read the
back: Daniel Reginald Harrison and Peter Aaron Harrison.

So that’s where ‘Harry’ comes from,” Laura thought.

The other was of a strikingly beautiful young woman. She did not look as if she could be over 19. She was tall with dark hair and blue eyes, just like Mr. Steele, and she was laughing and leaning against a car on a small country road.

Laura turned it over revealing Daniel’s script once more: Lola on the last day I saw her. She was happy and beautiful. You are just like her, my boy.

That was it, no more explanation. Tears filled Laura’s eyes when she realized what she held in her hands: the name that had so long eluded him, the image of his mother, and a link to reality, a way for her husband to feel real. This wasn’t a figment of someone’s imagination; this is who he truly was, right in front of her in black and white.

“What is that?” Remington said, slipping back in bed beside her and putting his arm around her shoulders.

“You didn’t see them?” Laura asked.

Remington took the pictures from her hand. The one of Daniel and his brother Peter was on top. Remington grinned back at the picture.

“Yes, that’s Daniel,” he said, turning it over.

“That’s why he called you ‘Harry,’ and why your middle name is Harrison,” Laura said, pointing at the names. “You, my dear husband, were hyphenated,” Laura said smiling.

“I suppose because my mother was not married, I took her last name,” Remington said, lifting the other picture into his field of vision.

“And so that you would be linked to your father; she gave you his name as a middle name,” Laura offered.

He fell completely silent, and tears filled his eyes again. “It’s my mother,” he said, finally breaking the silence, his voice filled with emotion.

“She was stunning,” Laura said, resting her chin on her husband’s shoulder.

Remington smiled at the picture; he could see himself in many aspects of her physical appearance.

“She must have been pregnant with you when the picture was taken,” Laura said, turning the picture so that he could read his father’s words.

Remington remained quiet for a while after reading. He slipped the papers and photos back into the envelope and placed it in his nightstand drawer. After turning out the light, he snuggled under the covers pulling Laura tightly against him.

“Callan…it’s a beautiful name; I have never heard it before,” Laura said, growing tired.

“It’s Irish,” Remington said. “Can’t quite think what it means.”

He ran his fingers over her lips and then kissed her.

“Thank you, for being you,” he whispered.

“Thank you for letting me be a part of this,” Laura countered.

The soft kisses they shared as they fell asleep in each others arms conveyed the strong and deepening love between them.

Tomorrow, Laura would not wake up alone.

Laura woke in the morning as the sun hit her eyes; her husband’s head had migrated in the night and rested on her chest. She looked down at his face, puffy from crying, so much like a little boy‘s, yet so manly.

She ran her hand lightly across his thickening whiskers and through his hair and thought about the emotion he displayed the night before. She could not think of how she kept her composure through it all. It was hard to see him in such sorrow. Her heart was breaking for him as he sobbed into her chest. But she had to remain strong. He needed her, and it felt so good to be needed.

His hand rested heavily on her stomach. He looked as if he would not wake for quite some time yet, so she lay there contemplating and staring at the hazy blue sky through their skylight. Just as at the office, Laura had filled their new home with dozens of green plants.

“No, no…,” came from Remington’s lips as he slept. She looked down to see his face marked again with sorrow.

“Wake up; you’re dreaming,” Laura said in a comforting tone, running her fingers through his hair.

Remington woke with a start and looked up into Laura’s eyes. The pain on his face subsided, and he pulled himself up so that they were face to face.

“Laura, promise me something,”

“Promise you what?” she said.

“Never die,” he returned.

Laura looked deeply into his eyes, giving him a half smile. She didn’t know what to say.

He seized her with a passionate kiss.

The stubble on his face, now even thicker, felt like sandpaper against her soft skin. It created a new sensation they had not experienced before. His new roguish and manly appearance was exciting. And the forceful role he was taking almost matched that appearance.

It seemed every time they made love, he was a new man. Everything he did was exhilarating. He knew what she needed better than she did herself.

He hovered above her mouth, teasing her by brushing his lips lightly against hers as he looked into her eyes. She could feel his breath hot against her skin. His smile seemed to convey that he enjoyed the power he had over her, yet she did not feel threatened. She felt too good to feel threatened.

“I think I am going to need a lot more of this ‘one on one’ time,” Remington said, smiling and bringing her to rest against him. “Helps me somehow, knowing that I can get caught up in you, that I can get lost in you. The very thing you were afraid of so long ago is my only comfort right now.”

“Well, if you are going to get lost in anyone, I am glad it’s me,” Laura said, smiling back.

“Me too,” Remington said, kissing her again.

“Far be it from me to deny your comfort,” Laura offered, knowing the devilish smile it would bring to his face.

Laura looked over at the clock realizing the morning had given way to afternoon, and they were still in bed entwined in each other’s arms.

“It’s 1:30, and I am hungry; can’t think why,” Laura said, smiling sweetly as she looked into his eyes.

“Remind me next time to feed you before starting such a strenuous exercise regimen.” He kissed her lightly before allowing a huge grin to take up residence on his face. “Must keep your strength up; I wouldn’t want to wear you out.”

“I never knew comforting someone would take so much energy,” Laura said before sitting up.

“Or be so much fun, eh?” Remington said, leaping out of bed and pulling her into a tango pose.

Laura laughed and fell against his chest.

“I will make breakfast love. You, my dear, can play the piano.” He gave her his most convincing smile. As far as she knew, she had never before played for him.

Laura felt herself wanting to protest, but conceded. She needed to play; she loved to play. Why shouldn’t she let him listen?

“All right,” she said, running her hand over his whiskers once more before throwing his robe to him and wrapping herself in her own.

Remington smiled triumphantly.

The first notes of Laura’s playing began to fill the house as her fingers slid gracefully over the keys. The music was beautiful and haunting -- sad, yet hopeful. Remington closed his eyes and lost himself in the notes. His senses seemed to heighten as each note touched the emotions in his heart. She played beautifully. He had no idea just how talented she was.

The light that streamed through the windows seemed to dance around with the melody. He went into the living room and looked at her; she looked beautiful and natural sitting there. It was almost as if the piano were an extension of her body, a tool of expression for her soul. He realized the reason she hadn’t played in front of him before; it was obviously a very personal and powerful thing for her.

Her delicate fingers moved effortlessly across the keys as she rocked softly to the masterpiece of her playing. Her eyes were closed and her mouth turned up at the corners.

Just when he thought she couldn’t be any more beautiful, a new dimension of her opened up; her inner layers were even more exquisite than the packaging that wrapped them.

The next song was filled with just as much emotion. Remington had never felt the emotion that music could convey as strongly as he did now. It poured from Laura’s soul onto the keys and filled the room as it filled him. Every sense was engaged as memories danced through his mind.

Melancholy notes let his sorrow become heavy in his breast. He breathed deeply. The next notes offered peace and healing. He thought of his childhood, the empty feeling of not having love in his life. And then he thought of the beautiful love he had given himself to now.

The final piece she played was even more aesthetically pleasing. It was beautiful to match such personal feelings with such perfectly played notes.

“You are amazing,” he exclaimed, finally opening his eyes.

Laura whirled around on the bench and looked up at him, surprised that he had come into the room.

“Chopin and Schubert are amazing,” Laura said.

“I have never heard anyone play like that Laura. I could feel what you were feeling -- what you were thinking as you played.”

“Thank you,” Laura said, flattered.

“Now, it seems to me you are having trouble understanding what it means to keep up your end of the bargain.” She grinned at him, lifting an eyebrow. “Were you not supposed to make breakfast?”

“Right. Breakfast.” He grinned at her.

“And then, I have another little surprise for you.” She stood and walked toward him. “Seems the only way to get you to do something is to bribe you,” she said, smiling.

“I’d say as long as it works, why change,” he grinned back.

Laura shook her head. “Remember, we must keep up my strength,” she winked.

“Eggs Benedict coming up!” Remington exclaimed as he hurried into the kitchen.

Laura shook her head. “I suppose knowing what motivates you could be beneficial in the future,” she shouted behind him.

Remington swung his head back around the corner and winked at her.

Laura sat at the table and watched him cook. Her stomach rumbled violently as the smell of his gourmet creation filled the room. The movements of his hands seemed effortless. Every few moments he looked over at her, made a different face, and then grinned.

She laughed quietly as she watched him.

Soon he presented a beautifully dressed plate in front of her with a flourish and sat down beside her.

“Aren’t you going to eat?” she asked.

He kissed her neck.

“Eventually,” he answered, moving his kisses closer to her ear.

Laura closed her eyes and breathed deeply. “You wouldn’t want anyone to say you are not a man of your word.”

Remington pulled away so he could look at her. “Ah, I agreed to make breakfast, nothing more,” he grinned.

Laura cut a piece of egg without looking and then raised it to her mouth, combating his attempt to kiss her.

Remington gave in, defeated, and got up to retrieve his plate. They grinned at each other across the table as they ate.

“How are you doing?” Laura asked.

A more serious expression came over Remington’s face. “Thanks to you, much better.”

“What do you think about having a name? About seeing your mother’s picture?”

He looked down at his hands for a long moment. “I think that after knowing nothing all my life, it is going to take a little more than a day to understand just how I feel. I am sorry I can’t give you a better answer.”

“I am sorry I changed the mood. You will know when it’s right; you don’t have to know now,” she said as she took his hands in hers.

“Now, the surprise,” Laura said, smiling and rising.

“Any clues?” he asked.

“It’s of the cinematic persuasion.” Her smile grew wide as his did.

“You know me too well. And there is no better way to spend a Sunday afternoon: you in my arms with Garbo, Bogart, Bergman. What more could a man ask?”

“Or Preston and Jones,” Laura returned.

Remington looked confused for a moment.

The Music Man, Robert Preston, Shirley Jones, Warner Bros., 1962.” He grinned.

“Losing your touch, Mr. Steele?” Laura asked, teasing.

“Nonsense. I just got distracted by the ‘you in my arms’ bit,” he returned.

Laura led him into the other room and then retrieved the movie. They curled up in each other’s arms as the film narrated a story much like their own.

“I can see your attraction to that movie,” Remington whispered.

“A con man falls in love with a beautiful, intelligent and independent woman and decides that he can’t leave her, knowing full well that she could have him put away. I couldn’t have left you, Laura, even from the first day. ‘For the first time, I got my foot caught in the door.’”

“Yes, Mr. Steele, it’s certainly a case of life imitating art,” she grinned, and kissed him on the cheek.

“Some things are worth the risk. You, my dear, are worth worlds. You hypnotized me. There was no way out, not without a broken heart and spirit.” He ran his fingers through her hair and over her temple before kissing her.

“Do you always use such flowery words to get women into bed?”

“I don’t get women into bed; I get Laura into bed.”

“So now I am not a woman?” she said, teasing.

“You are something a little more divine.” His eyes smiled at her.

“Laura, I don’t know how I could have dealt with all this without you. I would have become an angry man, unable to love or be loved. I am thankful to Daniel for teaching me that love exists, but I am even more thankful to you for proving it.”

“I don’t think I will ever get tired of your telling me that you love me,” Laura said, kissing his neck and then his lips.

“Good, because I can’t say it enough.” He pulled her over to lie on his chest, and they fell asleep.

Laura wandered into the kitchen in the early hours of the morning. She was excited for Monday. It felt good to wake up early and have a few moments of solitary contemplation. The coffee that she had just made slipped down her throat as she stared out at the rising sun. She loved the city; it was a working machine, constantly moving. Behind each closed door someone was living a life, creating, learning and growing. She was part of something. She had always had a sense of that. She liked being part of the living energy.

She glanced over at the refrigerator and noticed a folded piece of pink paper that had not been there before. She opened it and read it:

I love you; you deserve the best of everything. I plan
to give that to you.

She smiled and thought of her sleeping husband. He had not even so much as twitched as she got out of bed. His thick dark hair was matted to the side of his head, far from the image of perfection he usually had, but she liked her version better.

She then began to think of their home together. It really had been so thoughtful of him to surprise her. The art that covered their walls was a perfect representation of the two of them, an eclectic mix of both modern and classic. In the kitchen, the countertops were marble and felt cool as she ran her hand over them. The smell of herbs still lingered from the previous evening’s dinner.

Remington appeared in the doorway and gave her a sleepy smile. He looked adorable.

“Back to our usual habits are we?” he said, grinning as he looked at her suit. “Will you wait for me?”

“Of course, but if you spend an hour on your hair again, I am going to leave you behind.”

“Consider me a model of efficiency,” he said, smiling, and then winked.

“Mr. Steele, I am a private investigator; I am going to need proof,” Laura said, daring him with a raised eyebrow.


Remington got ready in a record 25 minutes. He grinned at Laura, very pleased with himself.

Laura straightened his tie, ran her fingers over his hair, and then kissed him.
“You’ve passed with flying colors,” she said, smiling

“I have been getting such extraordinary rewards, as you put it so well. I have found new motivation. It has been very beneficial to keep you happy.” He beamed and kissed her on the temple as they headed for the elevator.

“Oh, Mr. Steele, if you keep this up, ‘just think of the possibilities,’” She winked and he smiled, his mind soon slipping into the thoughts to which she alluded.


“What is on the books today, Mildred?” Laura asked after they had settled into their offices.

“Well, Mr. Steele has a city board luncheon at which he’s been asked to speak; that’s at noon. And there is an appointment with a Mrs. Rutter at 11. So I guess you will have to meet her on your own.”

Laura smiled, understanding what Mildred was getting at. “Or you could sit in with me; it’s always good to have a second set of ears.”

“Oh, really? You think I would be any good?” Mildred asked, feigning confidence for effect.

“You nearly solved the last case yourself. You are an important part of this team,” Laura returned, smiling.

Mildred’s eyes lit up.

“Until then, we should probably try to get a handle on the files. It seems the distractions of the wedding have produced a mountain of paperwork. It’s going to be a fun day for our Mr. Steele: paperwork and a luncheon.” Laura laughed along with Mildred.

“What are you ladies snickering about?” Remington asked, turning over an empty mug as he approached Mildred’s desk.

“Oh yeah, tea,” Mildred said, noticing his gesture.

“We were just discussing how happy you would be that not only are we filing today, but you get to go to a luncheon with the city board!” Laura pasted a cheesy smile on her face and clasped his arm.

Remington raised an eyebrow, unimpressed. “What do they expect me to say? I have been to an exorbitant number of the bloody things by now. How much more could I have to add to the city’s plan for sanitation?” he scowled.

Laura’s dimples showed as she laughed inwardly at his tantrum.

“A man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do, eh. Mr. Peppler?” Laura asked, smiling.

“I suppose. But if you didn’t look so lovely upside down, I would not be so easy to convince.” He smiled back.

Laura laughed.

“Guess that must be an inside joke, either that or something for a gal-to-gal chat,” Mildred said, smirking.

“Inside joke,” Laura said, smiling, “for the most part anyway…” She gave her husband a flirtatious wink.

Remington paced while the two women sorted through papers. Every once in a while, he would offer a smile or nod and then move a file from one pile to the other. He liked to pretend he was helping, but his allergy to legwork never equaled much productivity.

Laura looked up from her pile and raised an eyebrow as he passed in front of her again. His movement created just enough wind to send a few of her papers to the floor.

“Why don’t you go buy a few supplies?” she suggested. “We are getting low on paper; right, Mildred?”

“Well I ju--” Mildred stopped mid-sentence, cut off by Laura’s direct gaze. “Yep, fresh out,” she finished, catching on to Laura’s game.

“We could probably use a few legal pads and some coffee filters,” Mildred added.

Remington looked back and forth between them. He understood that he was no longer needed. He was in turn thankful for the opportunity to get out of there.

“We will see you after the luncheon then?” Laura asked.

“Yes, after the luncheon,” he returned unenthusiastically.

He gave her a peck on the lips before making his way out of the office.

“Thank goodness! I thought he was going to wear a hole in the carpet,” Mildred said, looking at Laura.

“Not to mention the random shouts of movie references and anecdotes that were no doubt about to spill from his mouth. I was afraid we wouldn’t get anything done,” Laura said.

“He has such a good heart, but he’s useless with office work,” Mildred continued.

“He chooses to be useless. We all know that he does everything he puts an effort into perfectly. One of these days I am going to find a way to motivate him to do leg work,” Laura finished, raising an eyebrow.

With their speed doubled, they were able to finish the filing by 10:30. They sat down in Remington’s office and chatted, waiting for Mrs. Rutter’s appointment.

“So is it still blissful? What caused his sour mood Friday?” Mildred asked.

“I think I will let him tell you,” she answered, smiling. “But yes, it has been wonderful. He is so caring; he left me a love note this morning.” She smiled.

“You don’t fight? I mean you kids were like cats and dogs at times.”

“There is a lot less to fight about. We know where we stand. I am sure when there is something to disagree upon, the sparks will fly, but the situation has just not come up.”

“Good. I prefer not having to tear you guys apart, biting and screaming, and then translate what you are saying to each other. I am glad you kids finally wised up and started to listen to one another.”

“Me too. It certainly saves a lot of time and leaves a lot more time for other things,” Laura said, grinning.

“Gal to gal, how are things in that department?”

“I think the only way to describe it is to say that it is indescribable. I have never experienced anything so…pleasurable. Not even cho- cho- chocolate.”

“That good, eh? Wish I could say I know what you mean,” Mildred said, smiling.

Laura smiled back. And then bit her lip.

There was a knock at the door. “Anyone here?” a young man asked.

“Guess I better man my desk, huh?” Mildred asked.

Laura nodded, and Mildred headed out to her post. A young man with sandy hair and blue eyes stood in the middle of the room, holding what looked to be three dozen roses.

“Looks like he didn’t stick to office supplies!” Mildred shouted through the doorway to Laura.

Laura came out and faced the enormous bouquet. A smile spread across her face, and she shook her head.

“In there,” she said, pointing to Remington’s office.

She followed the man through the door as he struggled with the bulk. After he left, she quickly pulled out the card and read it.

Thinking of you. This is just part of what you deserve. You get prettier all the time. All I want is your happiness.

Mildred looked through the door, smiling. “Never does anything halfway, does he?”

“Nope, everything is on a grand scale,” she said, agreeing.

Laura looked at the roses. It looked as if he had picked each and every one for its perfection. There was not a flaw among them. The rich scarlet of the petals contrasted beautifully with the white status laced throughout. They were nestled tightly together in a silver vase with a huge chiffon bow.

Remington made his way into the Hilton Checkers banquet room wearing a saccharin smile. He was immediately surrounded by a school of chattering women. One in particular shoved her arm through his despite his resistance.

“Where have you been all my life,” the woman asked. She was obviously intoxicated.

“Mr. Steele,” she said, slurring as she read his nametag. “Hopefully that’s not just your name.” She winked at him and touched his chest. He pulled away.

“I’m not interested,” he stated, plainly.

“Impossible!” the woman stated. She was tall, blond and beautiful, and obviously not used to being refused.

“Very possible! In fact, inarguable! I am very much married and very much in love with my wife.” He looked at her through narrowed eyes, annoyed by her persistence. Finally, she backed off.

Remington switched his place card with one at a table near the window. Although he had to be there physically, he did not desire to be so mentally.

He made his way through the gourmet meal. It was hosted by one of the finest caterers in the city, yet he found many flaws: there was not enough thyme on the chicken; the ratios in the vegetable medley were all wrong; the risotto was nearly inedible. He found his eyes quickly distracted by the street outside. “At least the wine is of an acceptable vintage,” he thought, wishing his wife were staring at him from across the room instead of the blond piranha.

After pledging his dedication to the “betterment of the community,” he made his way out of the banquet room as quickly as possible. Much to his chagrin, he was joined in the elevator by the blond and then by an elderly woman. He watched the floor lights blink as they descended. Four, three…suddenly the lights went out, and the elevator came to a shuddering stop. Remington helped the older woman to steady herself. He opened the panel for the emergency phone. There was no tone.

“Great! Stuck in the elevator with a man who swears his allegiance to his wife like some old fashioned oaf and Granny Smith. It’s going to be a great day!” the blond said, slumping to the floor.

Remington added his sentiments with a sigh and a scowl.

Mrs. Rutter arrived at Remington Steele Investigations promptly at 11. She presented them with the usual cheating husband monologue including bouts of crying and angry outbursts. Laura’s initial instincts told her to refer the woman to another agency, but pity took over. They didn’t have anything currently, and this would certainly be an open-and- shut case. Aside from that, stakeouts with Remington had taken on a new appeal.

“Have no worry, Mrs. Rutter, you have come to the right place,” Laura said with a smile, ready to be moving on with the day.

After getting the necessary information: addresses, license plates, etc., Laura politely escorted Mrs. Rutter out of the office.

“It’s no Maltese cross, but it will have to do,” Mildred said.

Laura smiled. “That it will, Krebs; that it will.” She laughed at herself; she and her husband were becoming more alike.

Lunchtime gave way to afternoon. The people in the city below scurried about as Laura tapped her fingers and waited for her husband to return from his luncheon. She gazed at the roses on his desk. They were the only thing that cluttered its surface. A contented smile crossed her face. She found herself thinking about the years they had spent with one another.

He had certainly brought her enough frustration. Part of that frustration came directly from his actions, and the other part from actions that were not taken. She had almost given up several times, thrown her hands in the air, but something always pulled at her heart. When he had been hurt during the Courtney doll case, it had become clear that she couldn’t suppress her feelings. She needed to take care of him. It was all or nothing. The journey after that moment was by no means easy, but slowly, their dedication to one another had emerged.

In the past few weeks love had taken on a whole new meaning. It was no longer filled with trepidation. It coursed easily through her body like the blood that filled her veins.

Laura looked at the clock. It was nearly two, and she had expected Remington back by a little after one. It was not like him to stay longer at such events. Something was nagging at her. She could not quite place it. She went out to Mildred’s desk.

“Has Mr. Steele called?” she asked, knowing the answer. She would have heard the phone ring.

“Nope.” Mildred looked up from her desk. “You okay, honey? You look worried.”

“I don’t know; something just doesn’t seem right. He should have been back an hour ago,” Laura answered.

“He probably went to his tailor. I wouldn’t worry,” Mildred said, trying to offer comfort.

Laura quickly made her way to the phone and dialed the limo, hoping to hear his chipper voice on the other end.

“Hello? Oh, hello, Fred. Is Mr. Steele there?”

Laura hung up the phone slowly as her brow crinkled. “He has not come out of the hotel.”

Mildred’s face took on Laura’s concern.

Remington had finally made introductions with his fellow prisoners. The elderly woman was named Gertrude. She was sweet and grandmotherly. She had asked Remington nearly every question possible. He had discussed with Gertrude his plans for children more than he had with Laura; the funny thing is that he had not even known he had plans for children.

Gertrude stared up at him from her scant 4’7”-frame and smiled at him with sparkling eyes. Remington smiled back at her. She was as good as anyone at getting information out of him.

“What do you think about becoming a detective?” Remington proposed. “Certainly, you are too young for retirement.” He winked at her. “Something tells me you would be quite good at it.”

Gertrude giggled at his charming smile. Remington saw no harm in flirting with old ladies, and Gertrude seemed to be distracted from their current predicament by it.

The blond was named Allison and, thankfully, as she had sobered, she had also grown quieter.

A familiar smell began to fill the elevator. Remington’s nose twitched.

“Smoke!” he shouted finally, quickly regretting the tone in his voice as it sent the two ladies into a panic. He removed his coat and handed it to Gertrude. “Cover your face.” He helped her to the floor of the elevator and looked up at the grate. He took out his lock pick and stretched to reach the corners of the grate, using it like a screwdriver. He pulled his lithe body easily through the hole and into the shaft. He then removed his shirt and covered the hole he had made, hoping to keep as much smoke from filling the elevator as possible. The smoke was coming from below, and it was growing thicker by the second.

His cast his eyes upward. He would have to climb the cables and try to pull the door open one floor above. The cables bit into his skin as he pulled himself up with his strong hands. He found himself thankful for the agility his past had given him. There was a metal rod just below the door opening; he swung himself to it and nearly slipped. “Steady old man,” he thought.

It was hard to fit his fingers between the two doors while keeping his balance. Sometimes his large hands were a curse. His brow crinkled as all the strength in his body flowed into his arms. Slowly the doors gave way and opened a few inches, stopping again. He shouted through the opening.

“Help! There is a fire and we are trapped!”

His shouting continued for a few moments until another set of hands came to aid him in prying the doors apart. The smoke had begun to sting his eyes, but worry for Gertrude and even Allison gave him more strength than usual. He pulled himself up and over the lip of the entrance and into the hallway.

Laura raced hastily toward the hotel, glaring into the L.A. sunlight and swerving from lane to lane, passing those that stood in her way. The rabbit, having seen years of rough driving, had developed a few rattles which became very apparent with her reckless speed.

As she grew closer to the hotel, the sounds of sirens overtook the sounds of the Rabbit. A knot formed in her stomach. The panic that threatened to overwhelm her as she saw people stream from the hotel was a foreign feeling. Men in yellow suits were pulling a hose inside. She ran toward the entrance and was stopped by the arm of a policeman.

“No one goes inside,” the man said sternly.

“Is it bad? Has anyone been hurt?” she asked, the worry in her voice undeniable.

“It’s isolated. Hard to say if anyone is hurt, but there should not be too much damage.”

The officer’s words were not enough. Laura scanned the front of the building, looking for a way to get in. When she made a decision, no one was a match for her determination, not even Mr. Steele. She excused herself discreetly and walked behind one of the fire trucks. The front doors into the hotel were open, and it seemed her only option was to run for it. She took off her heels, set them on the curb and dropped into starting position. Skirts and nylons were certainly not the ideal ensemble, but nothing was going to hold
her back.

Just as she began to run, two firemen hurried an elderly woman out on a stretcher. Then a third assisted a voluptuous blond woman through the doors. Harry was still inside, and she knew it. If that had not been the case, he would have contacted her.

Laura’s legs carried her swiftly through the entrance and past the shouting officers. Once inside, her eyes nervously scanned the room. He was slumped back in a chair, shirtless. The smoke had given his skin a gray tinge, and an oxygen mask covered his nose and mouth. She rushed over to him.

He sensed her instinctively and opened his stinging eyes.

“He’s my husband,” Laura said, pushing past one of the paramedics. He lifted a hand weakly to clasp hers.

“Well, your husband is a hero then. If it weren’t for him, two women probably would have died,” the paramedic said, smiling. “He took in a lot of smoke though, but for some reason, we couldn’t convince him to get into the ambulance. He said something about waiting for someone.”

Laura smiled and squeezed Remington’s hand. Mist came into her eyes, and she leaned over and kissed him on the forehead.

“You should have gone in the ambulance,” she said, looking directly into his eyes.

Remington shook his head and told her with his eyes that he knew she would come. He had waited for her.

“What happened?” she asked the paramedic.

“Well, from what I have heard, the elevator stopped between the third and fourth floors. And then someone started a fire in the shaft. It was arson -- they are still looking for clues, but there was not much there.”

Laura looked at Remington again as worry crept into her mind. She tried to offer him a comforting smile. He pulled her down to his level and gestured for her to squeeze into what was left of the chair, resting his head in the crook of her neck and closing his eyes. He handed the oxygen mask to the paramedic. The detective in her wanted to go and look for clues and for motive, but the wife in her won out.

“You, love, are going to the hospital,” she said, matter-of-factly. He was obviously in pretty bad condition. His body felt limp against her.

“He offered to go back into the shaft and bring the women up; he wouldn’t take no for an answer,” the paramedic added with a smile, noticing Laura’s concern.

She ran her fingers through his hair and kissed his cheek. “Why do you insist on being so chivalrous?”

He smiled at her question without opening his eyes. “It’s all part of the image, Laura,” he said, his voice scratchy. He coughed. “Besides, I grew fond of Gertrude in our captivity together.”

“Should I be worried? That was not the blond, was it?” Laura asked.

“What blond?” Remington asked innocently. “Oh, no, that’s Allison. Gertrude is much more appealing.” He was only able to get out a sentence at a time with his strained voice and paused between sentences. “I invited her to join the agency. I would say she has about 85 years of experience in getting people to divulge their secrets. She could be very useful.”

Laura smiled. It had become obvious over the years that Remington had a weakness for little old ladies.

“Can you walk?” she asked.

“Of course,” Remington said, straightening.

They rose together. He had not felt this weak since the night he had became intoxicated during the Peppler case. On the way out of the hotel, attendants handed Laura a polo shirt, and she helped Remington slip it over his head.
As they walked, he quickly noticed how much he was leaning on her and mustered all the strength he could to remain upright. He didn’t want Laura to think he was weak.

Laura drove to the hospital as quickly as possible. Remington tried not to show his further discomfort, but he had grown nauseous as the adrenaline wore off; in addition, his head was throbbing with pain.

The last few minutes of the drive Remington began to cough uncontrollably. He tried to hold it in, but it was too difficult. He soon found himself gasping for air.

“Wait here!” Laura shouted, leaping from the car as she pulled up in front of the hospital.

In a few minutes Laura ran back out the front doors with two paramedics and a stretcher. They lifted him up on to it, and she ran alongside.

“You can’t come any farther, Mrs. Steele,” one of the paramedics shouted. “As soon as we get him hooked up to the bronchodilator, you can come back in.”

Laura sat in a chair outside the emergency ward and buried her head in her hands. “Why do you always have to be the hero?” she thought. After 45 minutes of pacing and threatening the nurses, Laura finally faced the doctor.

“It appears that your husband’s heroic feats caused quite a bit of smoke damage to his lungs. Often the damages don’t appear for 24 to 36 hours, so it is hard to say just how bad they are. Judging from the restriction in his airways and the soot he has been coughing up, I am surprised that he was even conscious. We gave him a sedative and put him on a ventilator. We will need to keep him here for at least the next few days. Honestly, there is still a lot of risk involved and still the possibility for permanent damage.”

Tears welled in Laura’s eyes. She had found it harder and harder to keep her composure whenever he was hurt, and this time she gave in to the feeling. Deep down she knew he was the target. It had been eating away at her since the paramedic at the hotel had told her of the circumstances. She was scared.
“When can I see him?” she asked frantically.
“Give us a few minutes to move him to an overnight room, and I will send a nurse to retrieve you.”
Laura nodded. She wanted to break down the door and rush to his side. Her body ached to do something, to break something, to run; she couldn’t just stand there. She was angry that someone dared to hurt him. And she was a little angry that he had risked his life. After all, her life would be lost as well if he ever died. She threw her fist against the wall and screamed, drawing the attention of a small
crowd. Being powerless was not something she was comfortable with. After a few moments, she decided to call Mildred.
“Oh, Mrs…Laura…I just heard about the fire!” Mildred said as she picked up Laura’s call.
Laura fell silent, suppressing the tears that would no doubt come into her voice if she spoke.
Mildred’s instincts kicked in. “I will be right there honey, don’t you worry.” She grabbed her coat and keys and ran out of the office, nearly forgetting to lock it behind her. She had an odd feeling as she waited for the elevator -- as if someone were watching her. She looked around and saw no one. “Just nerves,” she thought, smoothing her dress as the elevator doors opened.
Laura paced in the waiting area. The only way she kept from falling to the floor was to keep moving. Her rapid pace and the random waving of her arms as she thought attracted the attention of the other people in the room, but she was oblivious. Every time a door opened or a movement was made, she turned so sharply that she nearly toppled over. She looked down at her feet and realized for the first time that she still was not wearing any shoes. The nylons were adding to her instability on the linoleum floor of the hospital.
Finally, a nurse came and approached her. She did so with caution, having been at the other end of one of Laura’s tirades an hour before. Laura tried to smile.
“You can come and see him now. He is sleeping, though, and probably will be for a while.”
The whooshing sound that the ventilator made and the beeping of the heart monitor did nothing to calm Laura’s nerves. There was an IV with two tubes going into one of his arms: one was for a saline drip and the other was capped off and filled with his blood. The nurse noticed Laura’s focus on the latter.
“We need to test his blood oxygen levels regularly. It’s easier to use an IV than to keep poking him,” she offered.
Laura’s brow crinkled, and she stepped forward, running her fingers over his cheek. His breathing tube looked downright painful.
“I have to stay with him,” Laura said, giving no room for argument.
“You will have to discuss that with the doctor,” the nurse returned.
“There is nothing to discuss; I will stay here, and there will be no contradiction,” Laura said, her eyes narrowing slightly. Her protective nature could not be held back.
The nurse excused herself, and Laura took Remington’s hand in hers. She traced the veins on the back of his hand with her finger and then kissed it, letting her tears spill on to his skin. His hand tensed slightly as he sensed her presence. She looked up to his face which was now creased with lines of pain.
“Nurse!” she yelled, lifting a hand to caress his cheek. He relaxed slightly at her touch.
The nurse hurried back in and injected a pain killer into his IV.
“Sometimes the breathing tube can be painful, and sometimes the patient can get pleurisy. That should help,” the nurse said.
“May I lie next to him? Laura asked, noticing a large enough space on his right.

“Well, we normally say no, but since you like to break the rules anyway, I don’t see how it could hurt. You just have to be careful of all the machines and don’t touch his neck or put too much pressure on his chest.”

Laura nodded, and the nurse left them alone. She carefully crawled into bed beside him, resting her hand on his bicep. It was an awkward angle, but she craned her neck until her lips reached his cheek and rested them there closing her eyes. They had found themselves in the hospital before, both in casts, and she had not cried then. But he had never been hooked to machines; he had never been unable to talk to her, to comfort her, to smile at her with his cheeky grin and make passes at her despite his condition. The breath she drew into her own lungs was rough as her body filled with emotion.

“Never do that again,” she whispered in his ear.

Mildred had no idea what condition Mr. Steele was in and rushed into the emergency ward. After receiving a verbal assault much like Laura’s, the nurses allowed her into his room. She gasped when she saw how pale he was and that he was not breathing on his own. She looked to Laura’s face which was red from crying, and her own eyes filled with tears.
“It’s not as bad as it looks,” Laura said with a weak voice. “At least I don’t think it is. He will have an x-ray in the morning.”
Mildred mustered a half-smile. “Hard to see him like this, isn’t it? But he will be ok.” It was now Mildred’s turn to be the strong one.
“There is not much you can do. I am staying with him. I wondered if you might get an overnight bag with some of our things. I can give you my key. In my panic I left my shoes at the hotel. I didn’t notice for almost an hour. Shoes are a necessity.” The admission brought a smile to Laura’s face.
Mildred chuckled. “Sure thing. I’d do anything for you kids.”
Laura paused. “Mildred?”
“I can’t tell you how thankful I am that you came into our lives. I know we have been doing a better job recently of telling you how important you are to the agency, but I want to tell you again how much you mean to us personally. In many ways we couldn’t get on without you, and we love you very much.”
Mildred’s eyes misted over. She crossed the room and leaned over to hug Laura. “It means a lot to me, too. I love you kids. I am thankful that I was assigned to your case. If I had not been, my life would have been
comparatively dull.” She offered a smile before saying goodbye and heading to retrieve their things.

Laura could not rest. She watched for his fingers to twitch, for his brow to crease, for any sign that things were not right. She ran her fingers across his forehead, feeling for a temperature, and searched for his heartbeat every five minutes. She could not think of eating; she could not think of sleeping. She could only think of him.

A nurse came in to the room.

“How long will he have to be on the ventilator?” Laura asked, still nestled in the hospital bed next to him.

“They will take him out for his X-ray and depending on the result, they will decided whether he still needs it,” the nurse returned.

Laura shook her head, understanding She longed to talk to him, to hear the sound of his voice and to look into his eyes. It wouldn’t matter who came to visit or who tried to comfort her, she only wanted him. Her mind kept running over memories past. How could she have ever thought she could live without him? How could she have ever thought she was better off without him?

He flinched, and suddenly his eyes opened. They filled with confusion. She pulled herself up to face him.

“Shh, shh, it’s okay! Don’t try to talk.” She caressed his face trying to soothe him.

He reached up and pulled at the breathing tube.

“No! You need it; it’s helping you,” she said, grabbing his wrist. He gave her a defeated look, and she kissed him on the nose.

“I love you,” she said, looking into his eyes.

His brow crinkled as he tried to convey his agreeing sentiment. He used his free hand to push the hair out of her eyes.

“I am supposed to be taking care of you, silly,” she said with a smile.

He tried to smile back despite the obstruction and made a motion that conveyed he wanted to write something to her. She crawled out of the bed and got a pen and scrap of paper from her purse. She watched as he worked.

I miss kissing you,” he wrote very slowly.

“It’s been less than a day,” Laura said, smiling.

But now I can’t, and I want to.”

Laura kissed the corner of his mouth and he reached up and ran his fingers through her hair. He looked miserable.

“Just one night,” Laura said. “We are not going to take any risks; I am not going to help you avoid these contraptions. I would rather have you alive than comfortable.”

He pulled her down to rest beside him again. His fingers ran lazily over her temple and through her hair as they fell asleep. He felt contented knowing he was giving her the comfort she needed.

Laura woke at about three, her body still tense from her worrying the night before. She looked at him as he slept. Thankfully some of the color had returned to his cheeks. She tried to fall back asleep and failed. The X-ray would tell them if he had fluid in his lungs and how bad things really were. She prayed that the ventilator had just been a precaution and not a sign of serious problems.

When he had awakened, his concern had been only for her. He hated being in the hospital; he hated even going to the doctor, and she knew he was miserable. Yet the words he wrote to her did not complain of his discomfort, only his desire to be affectionate, to have what he could not. That was typical of him; he always wanted what he could not have. His concern for her and his desire to be close testified to the change that had gone on in him. He had gone from being a man that lived for himself to a man that lived for Laura and for love.

It seemed they learned something new every day: a new way to love each other, to appreciate each other. Seeing him like this taught Laura a lot. She loved him deeply; her feelings for him were woven throughout every part of the woman she had become. Without him she would disintegrate, and she knew the same would be true for him as well. They no longer were two separate people; they were one. The thought that once terrified her was now reality; the difference was that the feelings were mutual. They both lived and breathed for one another; they both needed each other desperately. She felt that if she lost him, her heart would stop beating.

Remington started to stir about an hour later. Every time he woke, he had to be reminded of where he was and then reminded that the tube in his throat was necessary. In another hour the doctors would be coming in to retrieve him for his X-ray. The looks that passed between husband and wife were filled with anxiety.

Remington hated lying in bed; he hated being still if he were not sleeping or watching movies. He remembered them pushing the breathing tube down his throat and how much it had hurt. He had wanted to cry out. It still hurt now. Laura had no idea how hard it was for him not to rip it from his throat, and if she had not insisted, he would have. He looked into her eyes, trying to hide the pain that was behind them. Aside from the heaviness and stabbing pain in his chest, he felt fine.

A nurse and doctor came into the room. “Time for your X-ray; let’s get that breathing tube out of you.”

Remington conveyed his relief with his eyes. He never realized how much he liked to talk.

“Mrs. Steele, if you would step out into the hall,” said the doctor.

“No, I will stay,” Laura said without hesitation.

His eyes looked up and were met with fierce determination.

“That’s one brutal look your wife has got,” the doctor said, turning his gaze toward Remington.

Laura wrapped her hand around his as the doctor prepared to remove the breathing tube.
The look in his eyes as the tube was pulled from his throat finally revealed to Laura how much pain he was in. Her heart began to beat faster in her chest.

“Don’t try to talk for a while; you won’t be able to. It’s normal for breathing to be painful for a while.”

Remington immediately reached for Laura and pulled her down to his chapped lips for a kiss. It was more passionate than she expected, but she felt his hand relax in hers in response. She looked to see tears collected at the corners of his eyes. Her eyes filled as well. Soon he was pulled out of sight and she was left waiting, again. She felt as if her heart had been ripped from her chest.

“Mrs. Steele, now would be a good time to run home and take a shower. I have a feeling they are going to run an MRI, and he will probably not be out for over an hour,” the nurse offered.

Laura hesitated at first, but she realized it would drive her crazy to just sit and wait. She grabbed her things, put on the tennis shoes Mildred had brought, and hurried to the car.

As Laura stepped into the elevator, she got the same eerie feeling that Mildred had felt the night before. She could sense eyes following her. She looked around but saw no one. “You are just tired,” she thought, walking taller.

Her actions were hurried after she entered the penthouse. She used Harry’s favorite body wash, brushed her teeth, and threw her hair on top of her head, still wet. She walked from the bathroom into the closet. The same feeling came over her, as if someone were watching her every move. She glanced at the window but saw no one. She pulled the towel more tightly around her.

After donning her husband’s favorite sweater and a pair of black slacks, she rushed back out the door. She tapped her foot as the elevator descended from floor to floor. Thoughts rushed through her head and, for some reason, one of those thoughts stuck. It was the image of her looking into the mirror. She did not understand. She tried to shake the image from her head, but it returned and returned. She gasped.

After stopping the elevator and then sending it back up, she entered the apartment and ran into the bathroom. A pink note was stuck to the mirror. It had not been there before. She pulled it down and read:

Soon we will be together, just as we have always dreamed,
and you won’t have to worry about him anymore, my sweetheart.

Laura’s heart fell into her stomach, and she backed up. Why didn’t she think of it before? Mr. Steele never called her pretty as the note that had come with the roses said. He called her beautiful or exquisite, but never pretty. Suddenly, the lights went out.

Laura woke up in a small windowless room with two doors. There were a twin bed, a desk with paper and a pen. The rest of the room was stark. She quickly remembered that Remington was at the hospital.

“Let me out!” she screamed, running to the door and throwing her body against it. After an hour of screams and pleas, she fell defeated and exhausted to the floor. Tears filled her eyes as she imagined the worst. Remington could be in surgery, going through some life threatening procedure, and she was not there -- not there to kiss him, to comfort him.
She felt the same eyes on her that she had before and her eyes were drawn to the corner of the room where there was a small grate. It looked like a heating vent. She went over to it and ripped off the mesh covering, revealing a small camera.

“Aha!” she yelled loudly, looking directly into the lens. “How dare you! Whoever you are, let me out of here.”

Suddenly, a note slid under the door. She ran to retrieve it:.

It’s for the best, my sweetheart; you will see soon enough.
I will make you happier than you have ever dreamed. Look
under the bed and you will see a parcel containing some
things you may need. We will be together soon; do not fear.”

The parcel contained a box of chocolates, a revealing nightgown, a simple dress and a key. She immediately tried the doors. At the first she was unsuccessful, but the second opened easily into a bathroom. She looked around in horror. There were pictures of Abigail and Frances and even a picture of her old house. There were towels monogrammed with her name, and the shower contained bottles of her brand of shampoo and body wash -- the kind Remington loved. Her perfume rested on the counter. There was a satin bathrobe to match the nightgown that was under the bed and again there was no window. She looked for a camera, ripping the mirror and pictures off the wall. And then she heard a knock. She ran into the other room just in time to see another pink note being slipped under the door.

Why are you tearing down your beautiful things? I took time preparing them for you. You will be happy when you see the rest. Prepare for dinner.”

After fifteen minutes, Laura heard the lock on the first door turn. She ran to it and swung the door open, but no one stood on the other side. The room that was revealed was again windowless. In the center there was a small table with candles and a plate of food. Next to it was a pink note. She picked it up.

You look lovely; it’s as if we are already together. Make yourself comfortable and eat. I can see you, sweetheart; it’s so great to see you.”

Again no camera was obvious. Laura picked up the plate and threw it to the floor.

“Show yourself, if you love me,” she yelled.

A muffled voice came from somewhere in the room.

“How could you doubt my love for you?” the voice said. “I know you don’t really want him. I am sorry he forced you to marry him so that he would not be deported. You deserve everything.”

Laura’s teeth clenched as the man spoke. She could not tell from what direction the voice was coming. Suddenly, a hand came over her mouth, and a strong arm pinned her arms to her sides.
“Time to sleep; you will see; everything will be all right.” The voice was low and sounded purposefully muddled.

Out of the corner of her eye Laura could see that the man was wearing a mask of some sort. Before she could break away, she felt the cold sting of a needle in her arm. Her body went limp.

Remington was wheeled back into his hospital room. He lay waiting for the doctor and for Laura. The sharp pains in his chest had turned into a dull ache. A nurse came into the room.

“Have you seen my wife, Laura?” he asked.

“She went home to shower. Wanted to be here before you got back, but I guess she did not make it. Don’t like being separated, do you?” the nurse asked, smiling.

Remington grinned. “No, not really.”

“Your wife was ready to kill anyone that stood in the way of her staying with you; she intimidated every nurse and doctor that came across her path. She obviously loves you very much.”

“Yes, that’s Laura, fiercely dedicated.” He said with a look of admiration..

“You are a lucky man.”

“You have no idea how lucky,” he returned.

The doctor entered the room. “Well, Mr. Steele, I have good news and bad news.”

“Yes,” Remington said, slightly startled by the doctor’s straightforwardness.
“Seems as if you have a little tissue damage to your lungs; it will continue to be painful for a while. The good news is it could be much worse. And you really have no damage to your throat, which is odd, but it explains why you can talk. We can probably have you out of here in a few days. I want you to continue to have oxygen treatments, but no more ventilators. We want to watch and make sure no more symptoms appear. When you do leave, you must keep your physical activity to a minimum: no heavy breathing, nothing to aggravate the lung tissue.”

Remington was relieved. He had never experienced anything so bad as that breathing tube. “Thank you, doctor.”

“We are going to move you to another wing of the hospital. Eunice, here, will help you.”

The nurse moved toward his bed holding out a robe. “Put this on, Mr. Steele; we don’t want you flashing anyone.”

Remington stood and felt a draft run uncomfortably up his bare backside. He wrapped himself in the robe and sat in the wheelchair the nurse had pushed toward him.

“Is this really necessary?” he asked.

“Are you always this difficult?” Eunice said back, teasing.

Remington pouted as Eunice wheeled him down the hallway. As they passed the nursery, he looked over at the lines of tiny babies all wriggling and happy in their pink and blue blankets. He smiled and thought of Gertrude and her barrage of questions. Yes. One day, he wanted one of those.

This room was much better. The window looked over a grassy area, and there was a TV. If he were going to be stuck at a hospital, at least he could watch old movies and look out at something more than other buildings. He began to wonder about Laura. She was not like the usual women who primped for hours; it didn’t take any work for her to look good. She was naturally exquisite. Where was she? He reached for the phone and dialed, only to hear it ring incessantly. He put it down, perplexed, then dialed the limo; the same thing happened. He dialed again.

“Mildred? Is Laura with you?”

“Haven’t seen her since I dropped off your stuff; guess you’re feeling better then, eh, chief?” Mildred asked.
“Yes. Will you go to the penthouse? See if she’s there?”
“Sure thing. Is everything ok?”
“I don’t know,” he finished. Remington wanted to tear out of the hospital, but if Laura came in and saw him, he would be in deep water. He sat anxiously waiting for
Mildred’s call.
“Blasted remote control,” he said, hitting the channel button for the fifth time before it worked. Every struggle became exaggerated as he fought against his will to stay in the bed. He was slamming things around with loud sighs and growls of aggravation. It seemed an eternity as he sat watching King Kong, waiting for the phone to ring. He tapped and fidgeted and narrated every scene before it happened. Finally Mildred called.
“She’s not here, boss. I just found one of your notes on the floor in the bathroom, and the closet light was on.”
“Note? What note?”
“Actually, I didn’t read it; it was just like the one with the roses so….”
“Roses!?” he asked with more alarm in his voice.
“Yes, the ones you sent to the office. I believe the note said ‘you get prettier all the time.’ Something like that.”
“Pretty!? Laura’s not pretty! Laura is walking beauty; pretty does not cover it, and I would never say that! She’s exquisite. Mildred, what’s happened? Come and get me out of here!”
“Oh, chief, you’re not going to like this.”
“What, Mildred!?”
Mildred read the crumpled note. “‘Soon we will be together, just like we have always dreamed, and you won’t have to worry about him anymore, my sweetheart.’ Oh, chief, I’m on my way!” Mildred exclaimed.
Remington hung up the telephone, sprang from the bed and began pacing. Eunice came into the room.
“Mr. Steele! You need to lie down. You are not supposed to be active.”

Remington realized that his leaving would have to be a cleverly executed escape.
“Oh, yes,” he said, crawling back into bed and hiding the dread that had taken up residence in his heart. He felt as if something were going to explode inside of him as he sat.  Eunice buzzed around the room replacing used cups and fluffing his pillows.  He had never felt this kind of rage before.  He had never wanted to inflict pain on someone as he wished to inflict pain on whoever had Laura.  The feeling boiled within him; every muscle in his body tensed, and the veins at his temples began to protrude.
Mildred Drove quickly toward the hospital, her mind overrun with concern for both of  "the kids."  Soon she arrived, abandoning her car in the drop-off zone.  After making it past the nurses and being somewhat confused because he had been moved, she sprang into the room.
“Mr. Steele! I am so worried,” she said, running to his bed.
She took one look at him and understood what he was feeling.  His skin had taken on a reddish tinge, and his jaw was firmly set.
He spoke softly. “It’s going to be a little harder to get out of here than I thought.  You will need to distract the nurse so she does not come in while I climb out the window.”
“Is that wise?” Mildred asked.
Since when do I do wise things where Laura is concerned?  No, Mildred, it’s probably not wise, but damn wisdom!  I am working with something a little more primal.  Just do me a favor; if you are there when we find him, stop me from killing him, because if you don’t, I will.  If he has hurt her in any way….”  Remington’s hands clenched into fists.
“It’s a good thing you are not on a heart monitor anymore; the entire hospital staff would be in here.  I'll distract them and then meet you by the dumpster on the south end of the building,” Mildred said.
Remington nodded and she scurried out.
Mildred went out to the nurse’s desk and acted out the best fainting spell she could muster.
As they were gathering around her in a circle, Remington was crawling through a small opening in the window.  Below was a shear two-story drop.  There was very little to aid him in his climb down.  He carefully calculated every foothold for the first story and then dropped the last ten feet.  Shooting pains went through his feet and calves as he landed on the hard ground.  A draft blew up the backside of his robe.  He had probably just flashed the whole west wing of the hospital.  He would certainly need different clothes.
Luckily, Mildred was just five minutes behind him.   Otherwise, he probably would have gone ballistic.  He was kicking the dumpster furiously when she approached.
“Chief!” Mildred shouted about the loud sound. “Lets go!”
“Where should we start?  My mind can’t think of much except wanting to slam things around.  I am going to need your help because I am afraid I am not very logical right now.”
“The office -- let's check on the florist the roses came from.  It’s the only thing we have right now.  I brought you a change of clothes; you can change there.”
Oh, Mildred, you are sent from Heaven!” Remington said, burning rubber as he drove away from the hospital.
Remington ripped the card from the roses as soon as they entered the office.
“Betty’s Flowers, Calabasas, California,” he read aloud.
“I’ll look it up.  I've never been there.”
Mildred figured out the directions within two minutes.
Remington began to rush out the door.
“Mr. Steele!”
“Don’t you want to change?”
He looked down at his bare legs. “Right.  I will meet you in the car.”  He threw her the keys and ran into the bathroom.
“It’s a small town; that’s good,” Mildred said, trying to be positive.
“I will beat down every door if I have to,” Remington returned, his knee jumping and his hands tapping.  He could not keep from moving.
The drive took about an hour.  It was nearly 7:00 pm, thankfully still early enough to track down some things.  Mildred pulled in front of a darkened florist shop.  A "Closed" sign hung in the window.
“Damn!” Remington shouted, leaping out of the car.  He circled to the back of the building and began to beat on the door, his hands growing numb from the successive blows.
Finally, the door opened and a gun barrel slipped through the crack.
“What do you want?  Have you no respect?” came a small voice from inside.
My name is Remington Steele!” he shouted.  “My wife is missing, and I think you can help,” he said.  It was the first time he had said it aloud: My wife is missing!  Anger mixed with sorrow, and tears filled his eyes.
“Please!” he pleaded.  “I am desperate.”
The gun lowered and the door opened.  A short man with a thick beard steeped out.
“You scared me,” he said.
“I am sorry.  Please!”
“Of course,” the man said, gesturing for Remington to come in.
Mildred barely shuffled in before the door closed.  “This is my associate, Mildred Krebs.”
The fact that he called her an associate did not go unnoticed by Mildred.  She straightened her posture.
“Hello,” said the man.
“I take it you are not Betty,” Remington said.
“Betty’s my mother; she lets me stay here,” the man responded.  “She lives a few blocks away.  I'll call her.  I’m Jim.”  He shook Remington’s hand.
“My wife has been kidnapped, and the kidnapper bought roses here two days ago.  We have no clue who it is.  We need your help, anything that might give us something to go on,” Remington said, offering explanation.
“Mom can get out the books.  I don’t do anything but sleep here.  Sorry.”  The man dialed a number, and soon Betty was on her way.
Laura woke with a headache.  She looked down to see that she was wearing the nightgown and grew nauseous.  He, whoever he was, had touched her.
A note sat by the door with a single rose.  Next to it was a teddy bear.  She crossed over and picked it up.
We are the perfect match.  I still want to support you while you work; you are so good at what you do, Laura.  You are going to be so happy.”
Laura shuddered, and her nausea grew stronger.  “Wally,” she said with disgust.  She was dealing with a delusional maniac.  And one she knew just a little too personally.
She did not want to change; she did not want to do anything.  She felt his eyes on her, undressing her.  The pictures that had been scattered on his apartment wall a year ago flashed through her mind. Only he and Veenhoff had defiled her in that way, and Veenhoff, at least, had not really defiled her; he just did a little fancy computer work.
She went into the bathroom and grabbed the bathrobe, fixing it as highly on her neck as she could. She then began looking for all the cameras that could be in the two rooms.  Eventually, she was able to find four.  She ripped them from the walls, sending a shower of sparks into the air with every one.
She went out to the desk and began to write a note.
"Taking videos is an invasion of my privacy, Wally, and bringing me here was unfair."  She tried to write in a way that would communicate gently and not send him into a panic.  She continued.  "Let me out so we can talk about this."  She finished , the final words making her nervous.  She didn’t want to face him, but there was no other way to escape.  She walked over and slipped the note under the door.
As she sat and waited, her mind turned to Remington.  What must he have thought when she was not there, after he came out of the MRI?  What if something were horribly wrong?   And worse yet, what if his injuries were life threatening?
Laura knew the dangers of smoke inhalation.  There was no way to tell from his state the day before whether he would be fighting for his life today.  She felt helpless and miserable.
Betty was a small, sweet-looking lady.  Her long hair was drawn up tight into a bun on top of her head.  Remington’s look of panic when she came in negated any small talk, and they were soon leafing through the store records.
Remington ran his finger over the sales ledger.  Thankfully, Betty took phone numbers for every customer.  They could trace the number once they found the right name.
Suddenly, his finger stopped.  The rage within him that had quieted in the last few moments ripped through him once more.  “Wally,” he said with a low growl in his voice.
A look of horror crossed Mildred’s face.  “But he was put in the clink!” Mildred exclaimed.
“Wrong, Mildred.  He was put in an institution.  And whoever is responsible for security at that institution is going to wish he had never been born,” Remington said, tensing.
“I’d be happy to help in whatever way I can,” Jim said.
Mildred called the local phone company requesting an address to go with the phone number.  Just before Remington’s patience finally wore out, Mildred spoke.
“8582 Crummer Canyon Road,” she announced with a happy look on her face.  Although the girl from the telephone company had been difficult, Mildred had succeded in getting the information.
“I can take you if you'd like; it’s a bit off the beaten path,” Jim said.
Remington quickly agreed, and they were out the door.
Laura had barely eaten for the last three days and that had weakened her.  She still sat waiting for something to happen, anticipating the moment she would have to face him.
Her heart jumped in her chest as the lock clicked open.  Her instincts told her to charge the door, but she stayed.  She watched as the knob turned slowly, her muscles tensing.  She would have to make him think she was happy to see him if she was going to make it out of the place alive.
A moment later, Wally’s smiling face appeared in the doorway.  “Laura, you look lovely.”  He stepped toward her.  “You know, the minute they took me away I began to plan, plan a way for us to be together, just like we always wanted.”  His voice still held the same innocent and boyish quality. “I can sit up with you at night while you do your work, and, eventually, we can have a family.  I just want to give you everything.  That’s all I ever wanted.”
Laura forced herself to smile. “Yes, Wally.  Where are we exactly?”
“Mother wasn’t using it anymore, I thought, why not? We can make this our home…You don’t have to pretend to like your boss anymore Laura… Mother and I loved it here, that is before she went away. And then I learned about you, and I decided to give you everything.”
Laura recalled the gruesome description Wally had given of his mother the last time they faced each other.  Wally was capable of more than even he knew.  She would have to be very careful.
“Oh, that’s nice, Wally, to be thinking of me all this time.  Why weren’t we together before now?” Laura asked, some anxiety showing in her voice.  "Why did you lock me up?" 
“Oh, I didn’t want anyone to find you.  That’s why I arranged for your boss to . . . ,” his voice trailed off, “. . . go out of town.”
Laura smiled.  It was growing more difficult to keep her anger in check.
“He won’t bother you any more,” Wally said, a huge grin spreading across his face.  He stepped even closer to Laura.  He reached out and touched her face.  “Gosh, you’re pretty.”
“Wally, may I see the rest of the house?” she asked.
“Oh, yes, this is your home,” he answered.
Laura followed him out of the room
Jim wasn’t lying when he'd said the address was a little off the beaten path.  Modern roads had given way to gravel roads.  The landscape was a series of dry grassy hills with few trees.  There were very few residences. 
Forty-five minutes later, Jim pulled up in front of an iron gate with a "No Trespassing" sign.  Remington picked the lock, and they then traveled up a long, winding driveway.
They saw several more "No Trespassing" signs before the house came into view.  Jim pulled off so that the car would not be detected.
“You two just stay here,” Remington said.  He leapt out and walked stealthily toward the house, hiding behind bushes and an old abandoned car.
The front step of the house had a huge sign that said "Condemned! No Trespassing!"  He pulled out his pick again and began to work the lock.  He opened the door slowly.  A scream came from the other side.  “Laura!” he yelled, kicking the door the rest of the way open just in time to see Wally pull Laura into the other room.  He ran after them and came face to face with three doors.  He kicked them open successively, sending shards of wood into the air.
Suddenly, Wally appeared at the end of the hallway.  “She does not want you anymore, Mr. Steele.  Only I can make her happy.”
Remington looked down to see the light catch on a silver revolver.
“I can’t believe you made it out of the hotel,” Wally laughed lightheartedly.  “You are a pretty tough guy to kill.”
“Now just watch yourself, Wally.  Laura wouldn’t want to be with a murderer.  We both know that,” Remington said, inching toward him with the palms of his hands outstretched.
“You see?  No one believes me,” Wally said.
“Believes what?” Remington asked.
“I only ever wanted people to be happy.  That’s what I wanted for mother, but she didn’t listen.  I hate it when people don’t listen,” Wally said.
Remington heard a familiar click as Wally engaged the gun.
“Well, Wally, if you think you can make Laura happy, maybe I should leave you,” Remington said, trying to buy some time.
The sound of a gunshot filled the room.
Jim stood in the doorway with his arm still outstretched, staring at the man he had just shot.
Wally lay on the floor, curled up into fetal position.  The bullet had ripped through his right shoulder.  Remington jumped forward and grabbed his gun.
She loves me! Don’t you see?” Wally said, his voice filled with pain and tears.
“Keep the gun on him,” Remington said to Jim.
“Yep,” Jim returned.
Remington leaned near Wally’s ear.  “Where is Laura?”  He twisted Wally’s shoulder, and Wally cried out it in pain.  “Tell me before I rip out your heart with my bare hands!”
Wally whimpered.
Mildred appeared in the doorway.
“Mildred, call the police, will you?” Remington said, his hand still firm on Wally’s shoulder.
“Where is she!?” Remington shouted.
Wally still did not speak.
Remington began rushing around the house looking for another door.  He came to the room where Laura’s dinner had been set out the night before and saw the tray and food all over the floor.  On the other side of the room was a door.  “Laura,” he yelled, running to it and throwing his body through it.
She lay on the bed, eyes closed.  Remington’s eyes filled with tears.  He could see traces of blood in her hairline.  He gathered her into his arms let out a loud cry, and then reached to feel for a pulse.
He looked at her head more closely after feeling a strong heartbeat.  The blood was from a blow to the head, not a gunshot.  He ran his fingers over her soft skin and began to kiss her repeatedly, willing her eyes to open.
“Come on, love, come on. Wake up! I need you! Oh, how I need you.”  He picked her up and began to carry her out of the house, her body limp in his arms.
Mildred gasped as he passed.  Remington’s face was wet with tears.
“Chief! Laura?" Mildred gulped out.
“She’s alive!  Wait for the police!” Remington yelled as he hurried out the door, clasping Laura tightly against him.
He put her in the front seat and gently fastened her seatbelt.  He then grabbed a blanket quickly from the trunk and covered her, placing a kiss on her cheek before pulling away.  He drove furiously toward L.A., breaking every traffic law as he raced toward the hospital.  The drive that had taken them 45 minutes before, he now covered in 20; it was another 20 minutes to the hospital.
After coming to a lurching stop, he ran into the hospital with Laura in his arms.  She had still not stirred.
One of the nurses looked up.  “Mr. Steele! We have been looking everywhere for you!” she exclaimed.
“My wife!” he said as his voice broke with tears.
Another nurse ran to find one of the paramedics.  As soon as Laura was taken from Remington’s arms, he fell to the floor, his knees growing weak beneath him.
Laura woke two hours after arriving at the hospital with a moderate concussion.  She had been placed in the same room as Remington.  He was back on a ventilator and heart monitor.
“Oh, honey, you’re awake,” Mildred said, coming out of the bathroom.
“How is he?” Laura said apprehensively.
“He’s aggravated the damage.  But they say he will be fine.  They are just taking precautions.  He fainted right after he carried you in, apparently.  You should have seen him. He loves you so much,” Mildred said, smiling.
Laura smiled despite the throb in her head.  “I love him so much,” she said, pulling the covers off her legs and turning to get out of bed.  “What a nightmare, Mildred!”
“I know honey,” Mildred said, giving Laura a hug.
Laura crossed the room and ran her fingers over Remington’s forehead.  She leaned down to kiss him and then climbed into his bed, snuggling under the covers and resting her hand on his arm.  She lay there listening to the constant beep of the heart monitor.  It did not make her cry as it had a few days before; it told her that he was alive.
“You kids need each other.  I'm glad I knew it before you.  It’s been nice to see you realize it.  He was so brave, our Mr. Steele, although I think he might have rage issues.”  Mildred chuckled.  “I have seen you both risk your life to save the other these last few days.  Love like yours is what they write stories about.  He would have disintegrated without you,” Mildred said.
“Tears seem to be becoming a habit of mine,” Laura said.  “I don’t know if I like it.”
“I would be worried if you weren’t crying.  I think it's normal in this instance.  Don’t worry; you are still the strongest woman I know,” Mildred said, smiling.
“Same goes for you, Mildred; thank you for being here,” Laura said.
“I'm going to go down to the cafeteria; I'm famished.  I'll be back up in a little bit,” Mildred said, excusing herself.
Laura rested her head in the crook of Remington’s neck and hugged his right arm to her chest.
“I love you Remington, Callan, John, Douglas, Michael, Paul, Richard -- all of you and everything about you. I never want to lose you.  If you think that losing your life to save mine is a good idea, think again.  I can’t live without you.”  She kissed him on the neck.  “Maybe, since you're asleep, it’s safe to tell you some things.”  She looked to make sure his eyes were still closed.  “I never wanted to get married until I met you.  It seemed too constricting,” she smiled.  “And somewhere in the second year after you came into my life, I realized I did want something more.  I never wanted to say goodbye to you.  If you had been a different man, one who found it easy to commit, things might have progressed more quickly.  But then you wouldn’t be you.  And we wouldn’t have this.  You can’t die!  I won’t allow it!  Ever!”  She rested her head on his shoulder, soon falling asleep.
Remington was the next to wake up.  He felt the breathing tube in his throat again.  He couldn’t even growl in frustration.  He felt Laura at his side next.  Her warm body pressed against his.  A look of relief came into his eyes.  She had never looked so beautiful to him. She was alive.  He wanted desperately to kiss her, and his frustration with the breathing tube grew stronger.  Just as he lifted his hand to his mouth, Mildred walked in.
“Not so fast buddy,” Mildred said, smiling.  “Caught ya!”
Remington gave her a look of defeat and rested his hand on Laura’s hair.
His chest carried the same dull ache it had the day before.  The adrenaline that had accompanied his search for Laura had hidden it.  He furrowed his eyebrows and gestured for Mildred.  The movement of his arm woke Laura.
They stared into each others eyes for the first time in what seemed like an eternity.  They had both thought they'd lost one another.   The gaze spoke of all the fears they had had and of all the love they did have.  Laura kissed the corner of Remington’s mouth.  He ran his hand across her temple, brushing her hair behind her ear, and looked deeply into her eyes.
“I love you too,” Laura said.
He gestured to the place on her head where she had been hit.
“It hurts a little, but not as much as seeing you like this.  The heart always hurts much more than the head.”  She placed his hand on her chest.
He flicked his eyebrows, a smile showing in his eyes.
Laura laughed, “It’s my heart, Mr. Steele; focus.”  She grinned and her dimples appeared.  "You can flirt in any condition, can’t you?”
He winked.
Mildred watched them interact and smiled.
Eunice came in.  “Doctor said we can remove the breathing tube.  He only wanted you to have it until you regained consciousness.  We can do oxygen treatments from here on out; that is, if you promise not to escape.”
“I promise for him,” Laura said.
“What are you guys? Siamese twins joined at the brain?” Eunice asked, chuckling.
“Something like that,” Mildred said in agreement, “although they don’t always agree.”
“Look out, huh?” Eunice asked.
“You said it!” Mildred confirmed.
Laura shook her head, the corners of her mouth turning up.
“Ready, Mr. Steele?” Eunice asked, placing a hand on the breathing tube.
Remington nodded his head.
As soon as the tube was removed, he pressed his lips to Laura’s.  “I love you,” he said in a low whisper.  It was all that he could muster.
“I can’t wait to go home.  I missed you,” Laura returned.
Remington pressed his lips to hers once more, relieved that they were together again.
Remington spent two more days in the hospital and left with strict rules to stay in bed.  He took every opportunity to complain of his confinement.
He sat watching Casablanca for the third time, mouthing the words with a languid look spread across his face. “Now that’s better,” Remington said.
“Yes, your tea, Mr. Steele,” Laura said, offering him the steaming cup.
“No, I meant seeing you laugh,” he said, looking up at her and beaming.  “Never thought I’d say this, but I am getting a little tired of Humphrey Bogart.”
Laura set the tea down on his nightstand and felt his head.  “No fever,” she said.  She reached for his wrist.  “Steady pulse.”
“Check here,” Remington said, pointing to his cheek.
She kissed him.  “Seems fine to me,” she said.
“Maybe here,” he said, running a finger over his lips.
Laura knelt, and he seized her, pulling her into his lap and kissing her deeply.
“Yes, much better,” he said with a flick of his eyebrows.  “Stick with me kid; everything’s better when you are in my arms.”
“Astute observation, Mr. Steele,” Laura said, snuggling into his embrace.  Remington smiled.
Laura fell asleep before the movie ended.  She had been running herself ragged fussing over him and keeping him in line.  Her sleep was deep and full of dreams.
He watched her as she twitched, happy to be holding her.  He never wanted to let her go.  Wally would not be moved from the hospital to the jail for a few more days yet.  Remington was still on edge, still ready to protect her.  He tightened his hold on her.
She ran down the beach, a cold wind at her back, and the waves washing over her feet as the tide rose.  She could not tell if she was running toward or away from something.  The smell of sweet sea grasses and salt filled her nostrils.  The contrast between the warmth of her body of the cold damp air as it filled her lungs was refreshing.
Her feet hit the sand as her gentle gate carried her through the darkness.  There was a faint light provided by a crescent moon.  Suddenly, she stopped and looked up at the stars.  She became entranced by them, as if she had never seen them before.  Her eyes moved slowly through the sky, drawn to one glimmering orb after another.
Laura’s eyes began to flutter and slowly opened.  Remington was in the shower, and the air was humid from the steam.  He had left the door open.
After a few moments, he walked into the room with a towel wrapped around his waist.  He sat on Laura’s side of the bed and stroked her hair.
She looked at him, contemplating for a moment, noticing the light in his eyes.
“I had a dream.  I was running on the beach, and I could feel every sensation.  It was dark and the stars were bright, and I became fascinated by them.  When I woke up, I lay here listening to the shower and thinking.”  She smiled and took his hand.
 “When I was a little girl, I was captivated by every part of nature.  It filled me with a sense of wonder and enthralled me.  I saw everything as amazing, as a gift and a miracle.  It’s hard to feel that wonder and awe about things now.  It seems like a state of mind that leaves once you become a responsible adult.  But when I am somewhere that I can see the stars, I still become entranced by them, amazed.  Each time I look into the sky, a different constellation captures my eye, but every single one is beautiful.  That is what love is like.  Like the stars.  There is always something new but equally captivating.  And that is an amazing and beautiful miracle.”
“You are the most brilliant woman on earth.  I don’t deserve you,” he said, bending to kiss her.
 “Wrong.  You do deserve me.  You are quite impressive yourself.  If you weren’t, I wouldn’t be here,” she finished with a smirk.
 “But you are here,” he said, pressing his lips to hers, their kisses soon deepening.
 They made love as the sun rose over Los Angeles , their sweet caresses filled with relief and admiration.  The last few days, and all the trouble within them, had only strengthened their devotion to one another.
 Their bodies felt right, as if they were made for each other.  They gave themselves to each sensation and to each pleasure, reveling in the felicity of being together.
 “I never want to wake without you in my arms,” Remington said, running his hand down her side.
 “Then don’t,” Laura said, concentrating on his eyes before kissing him once more.
“Laura, I know what the doctor ordered, but I am not going to stay cooped up one more minute.  The boredom is driving me mad!” Remington said with aggravation as Laura placed a hand on his shoulder to stop him from rising.
“I understand you're risking your life for me, though I don’t condone it.  But to take a chance merely because you can’t sit still?  Really, do you think I would let you do that?”
Remington fell back against the headboard, and a scowl crossed his face.
“I can’t imagine what your children will be like,” Laura said, analyzing his pout. “Difficult comes to mind.”
“They wouldn’t inherit that from just me.  I’ve known their mother to be difficult.  Actually, for the first four years I knew her, difficult was the best word to describe her.”
Laura raised an eyebrow and narrowed her eyes. “Well, aren’t you cranky!?”
“Laura! I hate being like this.  And this time I'm not even in a cast.  I feel fine!”
“What word do you use to describe me now?” Laura said.
“What?” Remington asked as a look of confusion covered his face.
“You said that for the first four years the best word to describe me was difficult.  So what am I now?”
Remington noticed his slip-up right away but said nothing for the moment.  What he did not realize was that silence was worse than a wrong answer.
Laura stormed out of the room.
“Laura!”  He yelled her name a few times before chasing after her.
She sat at the table tapping a pencil.
“Why are we fighting?” Remington asked as he entered the dining room.
“I don’t know; ask yourself.  Maybe you’ll be less difficult,” she said without looking at him.
He sat down across from her. “You were difficult; I was difficult, and we were difficult. We know that.”
“Is this going somewhere?” she said, still staring at her hands.
“I am sorry I snapped at you.  What I said was true.  But it doesn’t mean I didn’t love you the entire time.  I did.  Besides, you said it first.”
After a moment Laura smiled. “I missed fighting with you. It keeps things interesting.”
“Yes, anything where you’re that passionate is highly appealing.”  He winked.
“Laura, did we just talk about children?  I mean, did we just acknowledge that we were, you know, going to have them?” he asked sheepishly.
“I’m not sure,” she said.  “Let’s just stick to practicing for a while.  I don’t know if I'm ready to add a little someone to this crazy life of ours.  I need to figure out how to balance things first.”
“Ah, yes. Practicality,” he said, drawing her into his lap.
“Someone has to be practical. And since you're so difficult, it might as well be me.”  She flashed him the biggest smile she could muster.
“I’ll tell you one thing that isn’t difficult.”  He kissed her and ran his hand down her thigh.  “Though it may be hard,” he said glowing.
“Do you think you will ever grow out of your seventh-grade mentality?” she asked teasingly as her lips brushed against his.
“Probably not,” he said honestly.
“Good.  Let’s go to bed.”
The walk to the bedroom was slow as they stopped to embrace several times along the way, mingling amorous kisses with caresses filled with desire.
Laura joined Remington in the kitchen and wrapped her arms around his waist as he chopped fruit for breakfast.
“Laura?” Remington said with a perplexed but devilish look on his face.
“Why is it that you won’t let me go out?  And yet, we've made love three times since I've been home, and, not to mention, quite vigorously.”
Laura blushed.  “I'm afraid I'm as weak as you are on that front.  Perhaps, love, is the best medicine? . . .  I agree; it’s foolish!  We should stop until you're out of danger.”
“No, no, no, no,” he said.  “Here, I try to be coy and fail miserably.”
“You should know by now, Mr. Steele, that it’s best not to play games with those who know you so well; you always lose.”
“Only if those I play them with have too much wit for my own good,” he said, smiling.
“It's really hard to see you constantly set yourself up for failure.  I’ll try to let you win once in a while, you know, to keep your morale up,” she said, smirking.
“That’s what I love about you, Laura; you are so gracious.”  He winked.
“Not to mention well-dressed and kind to furry animals,” she said with a teasing laugh.
“Will you remember all of my mistakes?” he asked somewhat concerned.
“Probably.”  She kissed him.  “Lucky for you, you are irresistible.  And I suppose all the wonderful things you do outweigh the mistakes,” she said with sincerity.
“As long as I get lucky, I’m happy,” he said, looking her up and down flirtatiously.
“See, now you have to do something to make up for only noticing the sex in my last sentence.”
“There was something else?” he said, feigning ignorance.
“I said how wonderful you are.”
“Oh well, that’s common knowledge,” he said, wrapping her in an embrace and kissing her deeply.
Laura laughed at his obstinate behavior when the kiss ended.
“What would you like me to say?  You are the love of my life?  You are.  You are my guardian angel?  You are.  You are the most beautiful woman in the world?  Again, you are.  I am in love with you and always will be.”
“Can we always start mornings like this?” Laura asked with a dreamy look on her face.
“I wouldn’t have it any other way,” he said with a kiss.  “Let’s go out.  Set me free.  I will take it easy; I give you my word.”
“Hmm, your word, I’m not sure,” she said, narrowing her eyes as if to contemplate and, then, smiling.
“How about chocolate crepes?” he asked, raising his eyebrows.
“Mmm . . . that’s unfair,” she said as her eyes closed.
“You shouldn’t play games with those who know you so well, Laura; you always lose,” he said with a grin.
She shook her head at him.  "What about the fruit?”
“It can wait until dinner.”
“Shower, Mr. Steele?”
“I thought you’d never ask,” he answered, following her to the bathroom.
Laura drove slowly, soaking in the morning sun.  It was nice to be spending a leisurely day alone together.
He reached over and rested his hand on her leg, wanting to keep physical contact and connection.
“I'm glad we're out;  it feels good to be together, to not be worrying about each other,” Laura said.
“I love you.  When I thought I had lost you, I lost myself; I had no control over my emotions.  I just never want you to underestimate what I feel for you.  I am nothing without you.”
Laura lowered one of her hands and clasped his.
“The same goes for you.  I love you with all my heart.  Seeing you hurt, not knowing how bad your injuries were, scared me to death.  I need you, Mr. Steele.  You are the best part of my life, and you always will be.”
Remington squeezed her hand and beamed.
The same waitress who had served them before greeted them as they entered the restaurant.
“Well, if it isn’t the two lovebirds!” she said in her southern drawl.
“You remember us?” Laura said, smiling awkwardly.
“Oh, you two are just too cute.  Always holding hands,” the waitress said, smiling.
Laura looked down to where their hands met.
Remington smiled and squeezed instinctively, reassuring Laura that public displays were, in fact, acceptable for two people in love.
“Thank you,” Remington said.  “We would like two chocolate crepes, eggs, sausage, toast and coffee.”
“Anything you would like to add, Laura?” he said, putting his arm around her.
“No, you guessed my cravings on the spot, as usual,” she said, starting toward the table.  Remington kept his hand at the small of her back as they walked; then he pulled out her chair for her and then seated himself.
“Laura, I need you,” Remington said.
“And I need you,” Laura said, trying to guess just what he meant.
“I mean I need to be alone with you, away from anyone that knows us, anyone that can harm us and any potential mysteries.  I want to spend seven days in a row, a record time, just being with you.  We need a vacation.”
Laura smiled.  “I could be persuaded to agree with that, although it may be tough to find a place with no mystery.”
“Picture it: a remote mountain cabin, no other people, just you, me and a roaring fire.”  He lifted his eyebrows quickly and then winked.  “Haven’t quite figured out the specifics, but I am already picturing it.”
“I bet you are,” Laura said, catching on to just what thoughts he was having.  “Sounds lovely; when can we leave?”
“Would tomorrow be too soon?” he asked, hopefully.
“Not at all.  After we leave here, we can go to a travel agency and get the ball rolling,” Laura answered, smiling.
Remington leaned across the table and kissed Laura squarely on the lips.  “Thanks, my love.”
“You two are just cuter all the time!” said the waitress, approaching their table with the food.
Laura pulled away and smiled.  She never liked to think of herself as cute; the term was more an insult than a compliment to her.
They ate quickly, hunger taking precedence over conversation, smiling from time to time about their planned getaway.
Laura thought about her quick agreement to his plans as they drove toward the travel agent.  The Laura that first met Ben Pearson would never have agreed to a spur-of-the-moment rendezvous.  But that Laura had disappeared.  She needed him alone and in a remote place as much as he needed her that way.  Almost losing him had changed her perspective completely, and the money that Daniel had left Remington had not quite run out.  They could afford to be away from the agency for a while.  Sometimes even a frivolous choice was practical, if it was for such a good cause.
“Penny for your thoughts?” Remington said, moving his hand to her knee.
You can have them for free,” she said, smiling.  “I was just thinking about how much I have changed in the last few months.  You’ve helped me find ME again, that same woman that ran through the winery in lingerie, that same woman that scared Wilson to death.  It feels nice to be set free.  It feels nice to be who I truly am.  It feels nice to let you whisk me away free from apprehension.  It feels nice that you love ME.”
“I do love you -- exactly as you are, exactly as you were and exactly as you will be.  I love every version of you, especially the version with me.”
“I am so glad that we have no impending cases.  I can’t wait to get away.  The whole thing with Wally was a nightmare,” she said, placing a hand over his.
They pulled up in front of the travel agency, and, as usual, Remington ran to get Laura’s door, lifting her by the hand onto the unusually high curb.
At first the agent offered them dozens of fliers on tropical getaways and cruises, pushing Jamaica or Hawaii, in particular.
“Not exactly what we had in mind,” Remington said.  “Too many people.  We want to be completely alone.”
The travel agent shifted in her seat, somewhat perturbed, and turned to a filing cabinet.
“We were thinking more along the lines of a cabin: something in the mountains, nothing too rustic, but far away from, well, any other person,” Laura said.
“You guys are making it tough.  But I have a few suggestions,” she said, placing two brochures in front of them.
Eventually they decided on a house in the Smoky Mountains.  It promised romance and seclusion, and the pictures looked good enough to satisfy even Remington’s standards.
As they stepped outside of the agency, Remington swept Laura into the alley and pressed her body against the wall with his.
“What!?” Laura said, startled.
His answer was clear as his lips enveloped hers in a long kiss.  “Just thought I would give you a preview,” he said, winking.  “I can’t tell you how excited I am,” he finished.
“I can see that,” Laura said, wrapping her arms around his waist.  “Maybe we should go home.  You wouldn’t want to have a tryst in a dirty alley.”
Remington wagged his eyebrows at her.
“Trust me, you don’t,” Laura said, shaking her head.  “Let’s go home.”  She kissed him sweetly and pulled away, taking him by the hand and leading him to the car.  He followed her faithfully.
Laura drove.  She stared ahead, entertaining thoughts of their imminent vacation.  Suddenly she felt lips on her neck.
“I thought we discussed this,” she said with a look that said just what he was doing to her.  “If you want to survive this car ride, don’t do that.  As much as I love it, it has its place.”
He ran his hand up her blouse, ignoring her plea.  Suddenly, they came to a screeching halt.  Laura swerved the car off the road.
“You drive!” she said.  “You need to learn to keep your hands and mouth to yourself when you are told,” she said, half smiling.
He slapped her rear as they passed in front of the car.
A few minutes after he pulled onto the road, Laura dropped a hand strategically into his lap.  His eyes closed for a moment, and the car jigged to the side.
Once he regained some control, she pressed her lips to the skin just below his ear.  His hands tightened on the steering wheel as he fought to keep control.
“Had enough of your own medicine?” Laura asked, letting her breath hit his sensitive skin..
“A little lower,” he said with a smirk.
“Oh! You are impossible!” she said, rolling back into her seat.
Their hands wandered over each other's bodies as they rode up in the elevator.
“No one has ever had as much passion as I have for you, Laura,” Remington said in one of the breaths between their kisses.
“Except me, for you,” she said, returning her lips to his.
They made it only as far as the doorway before falling to the floor together and losing themselves in one another.
 “Where did that come from,” Laura said, rolling over to look into his eyes, still out of breath.
“That good, eh?” he asked, preening.
“Let’s just say, it scratched itches I didn’t even know I had,” she answered, smiling.
Remington lifted his eyebrow and kissed her lightly, standing up and then helping her to rise.  He brought her into an embrace and began to dance, humming the melody to My Romance. She hummed along and they swayed together, eyes closed and smiling as the sun from the living room windows illuminated their bodies.
My romance doesn't have
To have a moon in the sky
My romance doesn't need
A blue lagoon standing by

No month of May
No twinkling stars
No hide away
And no soft guitars

My romance doesn't need
A castle rising in Spain
Nor a dance to a constantly
Surprising refrain
Wide awake
I can make my most
Fantastic dreams come true

My romance doesn't need
A thing but you
The End

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